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PREVIOUSLY ARCHIVED RECORD REVIEWS FROM MY OLD BLOG 'FLOWER BOMB SONGS'


Here are some of my random thoughts and words about obscure and in-demand ’60s garage and psychedelic singles over the years. All of the original blog posts on my old website have since been deleted so no label scans or picture sleeves are available. Instead, I’ve used images scanned from a 1967 Playboy magazine.

THE TROPICS – ’For A Long Time’/’Black Jacket Woman’ (Thames Records T-103) 1966

The Tropics were one of the leading bands to emerge from the Tampa Bay scene that included The Rovin’ Flames, The Roemans, Hoppi and the Beau Heems, The Savages and The Outsiders.

This rather GREAT! double sider is my favourite 45 that they released mostly because it has an abundance of glorious jangle.

’For A Long Time’ written by songwriter Travis Fairchild has all the elements I dig in a 60s garage record (ie) punky vocals, jangle guitar, cool musicianship and production as well as lyrics that are full of fucked off attitude.

For a long time you’ve been hangin’ me ’round
I tell you girl I ain’t your clown
I tell you girl I ain’t gonna hang around….for a long time.

’Black Jacket Woman’ is a slow tempo folk rocker, very Byrdsian in song structure and melody. I could listen to this type of coolsville all day and all of the night. The Yorkshire Puddin’ and Zone V also recorded versions.

Both songs were produced by Jim Sessody and Vince Palmer.

An excellent interview with Buddy Pendergrass (guitar/organ) from The Tropics can be found in Issues 1 & 2 of a fanzine called Kaleidoscope.

Definitely some great songs! One correction, though — Travis Fairchild was one person, the leader of the Clefs of Lavender Hill. His songs were also recorded by the Echoes of Carnaby Street and Squires V.

(27/04/11)

THE TEARS – ’Rat Race’/’People Through My Glasses’ (Onyx 2201) January 1968

The Tears are probably best remembered (if at all) for their fuzz ravin’ non hit swinger ’Weatherman’. I first heard it on the compilation LP ’Sixties Choice – Volume 2’. It took a long time for their follow up ’Rat Race’ to get some comp action, then Big Beat put that situation right in 1994 with their CD ’The Scorpio Records Story’.

The Tears hailed from Sacramento and were a popular live draw in and around their home turf. Both sides of this disc were recorded in 1967 at Fantasy Records Studios in San Francisco.

The record was slated to be released on Scorpio Records at the tail end of ’67 but the release was shelved when the label was sold.

’Rat Race’ and ’People Through My Glasses’ are powerful fuzzadelic tunes heavy on the fuzz and organ in equal measure. Listen out for some mind bending studio trickery. File under COOL!

(26/04/11)

SUNSHINE REIGNS – ’Acelia Dulfin’/’Laura (Is The Girl)’ (MBM Productions 1946) 196?

This combo are a mystery to me, nothing is written about them in any of the sources I have and no one has written about them online. MBM Productions were a small label operating out of Crowley, Louisiana, so perhaps that’s a clue as to where Sunshine Reigns came from.
MBM Productions also released a 45 by 49th Blue Streak – another unknown group.

’Acelia Dulfin’ was the flip side and it’s a mournful teen garage loner/outsider trip about a girl not worth bothering about. It starts off with a spoken intro over some mysterious bass and farfisa organ and it’s quite clear that the singer has been burned by this chick before.
After the spoken intro the song bursts into folk rock jangle

”This is a story about a friend I once had
For he’s mixed up with this girl
And I knew she was bad.
So I gave him some advice about her
And I think you ought to listen to it to,
It might help you some day”

(25/04/11)

ROBB LONDON and the ROGUES – ’Bitter Tears’/’Standing Under Big Ben’ (Beckingham Records BJ-1083) 1965

Beckingham Records were a small label operating out of San Antonio, Texas that were obviously touched by the Brit Invasion influence. It’s all there if you look for the clues on the label….the music though is pure American, in particular Los Angeles folk rock and those teen punk moody ballads.

’Bitter Tears’ is a slow, moody and short (1:45) rant of folk rock greatness edged along by a clattering tambourine. I can’t hear any drums so the tambourine has become the backbeat for the sullen and depressed Robb London.

The flip ’Standing Under Big Ben’ (these guys just loved the English angle) is another moody gem.

Two more Robb London and the Rogues 45s were released on Beckingham which I don’t have at this point in time but they’re on my radar.   

(25/04/11)

THE GANTS – ’Try Too Hard’ (Liberty LRP-3455) July 1966

I first discovered The Gants via Pebbles Volume 8 (’I Wonder’ was compiled) and so when Bam Caruso released a retrospective LP in 1988 full of Gants music it was a must have. One of these days I’ll cover The Gants 45s on my blog in detail but for now I’ll post ’Try Too Hard’.

’Try Too Hard’, recorded in Los Angeles, is their version of the rockin’ garage number written by Dave Clark & Mike Smith. Maybe The Gants were influenced enough by The Dave Clark Five to cover this fuzz ravin’ gem. According to the liners of the Bam Caruso release The Gants toured with the English beat group during the early part of 1966.

’Try Too Hard’ was a rare highlight on the LP ’Gants Galore’ but sadly this smokin’ tune was not released as a Gants 45 side.

(24/04/11)

THE MOURNING REIGN  – ’Our Fate’ (Sundazed SEP 115) June 1966

The Mourning Reign, from San Jose, left behind some fabulous recordings all of which were gathered together and released on Beatrocket back in 1998. One such piece of greatness was ’Our Fate’ an up-tempo garage folk rock gem, written by lead singer Beau Maggi.

The group enjoyed some success as a touring group even supporting Eric Burdon & The Animals during a week long stint in Northern California.

The Mourning Reign were dealt a body blow when frontman and songwriter Maggi was drafted to Vietnam and things were never quite the same.      

(24/04/11)

THE SHEFFIELDS – ’Nothing I Can Do’/’My Only Wish’ (Fenton 980-C) August 1965

Hundreds of American groups (maybe thousands) were influenced by the Brit Invasion sound and none finer than The Sheffields from Holland, Michigan. They even called themselves after a City in England such was the need to embrace the rampant English ’disease’ of rock and roll from 1964 onwards.

’Nothing I Can Do’ is a perfect harmonious beat number that sounds like the best song The Searchers never wrote. This was always one of my favourite cuts on ’Scream Loud’ The Fenton Story. It was also re-recorded and released on the Chicago based Destination label in 1966.

line-up:
Dale Knoll (bass)
Ron Gibson (lead guitar)
John Dunn (rhythm guitar)
Rodney Mullett (drums)
Gary Teall (lead singer)

Reader comment:
I went to school with all these guys, also dated a couple. They were a great group and we all knew they were going to go places, that is, until Viet Nam happened. Very unfortunate timing for the group. Thanks guys, for all the awesome music and friendship over the years. Your classmate,Genie Taylor

(23/04/11)

THE KINGS RANSOM – ’Shadows Of Dawn’/’Streetcar’ (Integra 102) 196?

The follow up Kings Ransom 45 was the charming pop psycher ’Shadows Of Dawn’ which is clearly influenced by The Association, especially the background vocals.

The group had moved away from the folk jangle brashness on this release and were heading towards a more sophisticated sound, but this would be the final Kings Ransom record.

Previously unreleased Kings Ransom songs from 1966 were compiled on the recent Allentown Anglophile compilation.

Reader comment:
I am from Allentown, home of the Kings Ransom I remember them playing weekly at King Arthurs Court

(22/04/11)

THE KINGS RANSOM – ’Shame’/’Here Today Gone Tomorrow’ (Integra 101) July 1967

Another teenage group with the ’English’ sound were The Kings Ransom from Allentown, Pennsylvania. They combined the energetic beat approach of The Rolling Stones with a 12 string Rickenbacker to produce an altogether satisfying folk punk jangler in ’Shame’..

’Shame’ and the flip ’Here Today Gone Tomorrow’ were group originals and recorded at Frank Virtue studio and found an interesting article in Billboard from March 1968 that I’ve uploaded below.

The Kings Ransom were one of those obscure mid 60s groups that had a big local following but were virtually unknown outside of their home State. The played regular at venues such as The Purple Owl, King Arthur’s Court, The Mod Mill and The Mad Hatter.

line-up:
Bob Dougherty (vocals)
Vince Homick (rhythm guitar)
Bob Werley (lead guitar)
Chuck Hoey (drums)
Glen Zoski (bass)

(22/04/11)

THE FIFTH ORDER – ’Goin’ Too Far’/’Walkin’ Away’ (Diamond D-212) November 1966

Teenage group The Fifth Order hailed from Columbus, Ohio and their 1966 release ’Goin’ Too Far’ is considered a garage classic and quite rightly so. By late 1966, The Fifth Order had acquired a strong fan base due in most part to their wild gigs and lead singer Billy Carroll who had a stage presence that the girls went nuts for.

The group recorded the fruits of this 45 at a studio in Louisville, Kentucky. The chose two originals by songwriter Jack Sender (who was not in the group) and it was released on the small indie label Counterpart. Sales of the record went through the roof.

According to the liners of the Break-A-Way retrospective from 2004, it sold upwards of 18,000 copies. It was a number 1 smash in Columbus and charted in Ohio and the Midwest.

Diamond Records then licensed it for national release but it didn’t sell in the quantities hoped for. But good news for garage fans in 2011 because it’s a fairly easy 45 to score. The flip ’Walkin’ Away’ has merseybeat moves and is another strong song with immediate appeal.

(20/04/11)

THE FIFTH ORDER – ’A Thousand Devils (Are Chasin’ Me)’/’Today (I Got A Letter)’ (Laurie LR 3404) Sept 1967

During mid ’67 The Fifth Order returned to producer Ray Allen’s studio in Louisville, Kentucky and recorded five Jack Sender songs. The best song and garage classic ’Bonfire’ was for some insane reason not chosen as a side for the single that followed in September.

’A Thousand Devils (Are Chasin’ Me)\’ was picked as the A Side. With it’s jaunty commercial sound and soul influenced background vocals, the record did well locally once again when released on Counterpart. This time around Laurie Records signed the group and the 45 was picked up for national release but flopped.

According to the liners of the Break-A-Way release, The Fifth Order appeared on TV Show ’Upbeat’ in Cleveland. Maybe one day the tapes of that performance will show up some place on the internet.

(21/04/11)

THE FIFTH ORDER ’Bonfire’ (Break-A-Way 010) unreleased recording 1967

German re-issue label Break-A-Way Records release superior retrospectives of 60s garage bands and on most occasions find previously unused demos and studio recordings that for a mixture of reasons were never used at the time.

’Bonfire’ would surely have become a sought after disc had it been released when The Fifth Order were one of the best groups in Ohio. This song written by Jack Sender is (in my opinion) as good if not better than the big hit ’Goin’ Too Far’….

The group missed out by not releasing this killer but I’ve been collecting obscure 60s records long enough to know that bad moves and decisions hindered many teenbeat groups.

The Rickenbacker jangle is present along with those pounding bass notes ala ’Goin’ Too Far’… Not only that but there’s some subtle fuzz which is obviously killer kool but not loud enough in the mix for my tastes. The lyrics seem to describe a swingin’ chick who’s too hot to handle.

”She’s a little bonfire leave her alone.”

The following – take a bow:
Billy Carroll (vocals)
Jim Hilditch (lead guitar)
Jeff Fenholt (rhythm guitar)
Jeff Johnson (bass)
Mike Comfort (drums)
Gary Steger (rhythm guitar on ’Goin’ Too Far)
Jack Sender (songwriter)

(21/04/11)

 THE HAZARDS – ’Tinted Green’/’Hey Little Girl (C’mon Let’s Live)’ (Unicorn 23793/4) 1969

Every now and again I become obsessed by a song and at the moment the song doing my mynd some pleasurable damage is ’Tinted Green’ by The Hazards.
I’ve not got this rare 45 and have never seen it offered for sale via dealer lists etc. I checked popsike and a copy in ’worn’ condition and full of noise sold for almost $1600. That kind of price is an indication that it’s a sought after disc and beyond scarce.

’Tinted Green’ has been compiled just the once on the vinyl only release ’Highs In The Mid Sixties – Volume 21, Ohio, Part Two’. The record used for that compilation sounds like it’s in poor condition.

There is loud snap, crackle and pop from start to finish. I’ve uploaded an MP3 from this disc in all it’s crackling glory, I didn’t bother to clean the wav file only boosting the volume to make it sound much louder. 

So why do I think ’Tinted Green’ is killer? Well, just listen to that eerie farfisa organ high in the mix and loner garage psych vibe. Now that is just a fantastic sound.

According to Barry Wickham’s Reference Guide, the 45 was pressed in 1969. That may be so, but the sound is not the usual heavy rock sound of ’69. What would you rather have, Led Zep or The Hazards? I know who’d win out in my EXPO67 world.

I spent some time researching The Hazards but wasn’t having much luck until I crashed onto the Buckeyebeat website. Here is that entry in full: 

Location: North Jackson, 1966-70.

This group was formed by two sets of brothers who lived in the truck stop communities of North Jackson and Berlin Center.

The oldest member had been playing since the early 60s in small combos using the name Peppermint Twisters but in 1966 the official Hazards formed, originally under the name Saints of Soul.

The band didn’t have much opportunity to play live as there were very few places to play. In 1967, 23 year old Chuck Tomich from nearby Ellsworth joined the band as keyboard player (he had been Western Reserve High classmates of the drummer some years ago).

Chuck took his military severance pay and bought the band new equipment and changed the name to The Hazards. Chuck wrote a couple songs, using the pen name Jason C. Lee, and the band went to United Audio and recorded the garage psych masterpiece ”Tinted Green”, which reflected Chuck’s disillusionment about his Vietnam War experiences. The excellent ”Hey Little Girl” was originally intended for the A-side.

The band got the tapes to Bryte Star in Newbury for release and distribution. The band was told that at least 2500 copies were sold, but due to the record’s extreme rarity, that seems like a con job (about 2490 copies must be in a warehouse somewhere).

Copies of the record were distributed with a picture insert. The Hazards didn’t last long, as three of the members were well into their 20s and a couple wanted a steadier gig. Chuck Tomich hooked up with a couple Youngstown area musicians in a short lived band called Group Therapy before forming Blue Amber.

The Hazards – this original 45 in ’worn’ condition sold on eBay in September 2010 for $1593

(18/04/11)

THE NIGHT CRAWLERS – ’You Say’/’Night Crawlin’ (Maad Records IMP-51166) May 1966

During their brief existence The Night Crawlers from Owatonna, Minnesota, released one 45 on the small Maad Records label. Approximately 1000 copies were made over two pressings. The original release is the green and white label with ’Joel Recordings of Mankato, Minnesota’ on the label. My copy is the second, black label Columbia pressing.   

’You Say’ is a commercial folk rocker with 12 string jangle and flashes of tambourine. It’s no surprise that Night Crawler Marc Reigel confirmed that they were Byrds fans in a recent interview over on garagebands.com

The flip ’Night Crawlin’ is an instrumental composed in the studio on the spot and taped as a live jam.

Despite a huge following and regular gigs The Night Crawlers disbanded in late 1967 when some members graduated from Carleton College and moved on. The Night Crawlers have set up their own Facebook page with in depth details of their history and many cool gig photographs from 1966/67.

Line-up:

Marc Reigel (piano and organ)
Mark Headington (bass)
Mike Jines (guitar)
Bill Redeker (drums)
Barry Gillespie (vocals)

Great post. I believe Bill Redeker became an television reporter for ABC News.

(16/04/11)

THE NIGHT CRAWLERS – ’Want Me’/’Feel So Fine’ (Feathered Apple FA-6510) issue from 1966 acetate

When American teenagers went into the recording studio during 1966 armed with their guitars, drums, a fuzzbox, a farfisa organ and enough swagger & attitude to make Mick Jagger look like a choirboy, the results were invariably 60s punk classics…

The Night Crawlers cut some songs at CBS Studios in Chicago that sadly never saw the light of day until someone unearthed an acetate of ’Want Me’. It then ended up on garage comp ’Back From The Grave – Volume 8… I never really took much attention to the song on that release and it wasn’t until Mark Taylor sent me a copy of his homemade CD collection G45 Unwaxed that ’Want Me’ hit me like a sledgehammer.

The fuzz and farfisa overload packs a powerful punch and thanks to Switzerland re-issue label Feathered Apple, vinyl lovers can have ’Want Me’ on a 45 where it surely belongs.
My copy is one of the few that came with a pic sleeve.

The other songs recorded at CBS Studios but ignored and never released were the flip on the acetate ’Feel So Fine’, ’Dandelions’, ’Chimes Of Freedom’, Just Like Romeo & Juliet’ and ’Shoulder Of A Giant’. Maybe in the future these ’lost’ recordings will see the light of day.

I recently made contact with Night Crawlers organist Marc Reigel who has granted my wish to use pictures of his group on my site. 

(15/04/11)

THE MORNING DEW – ’Be A Friend’/’Go Away’ (Fairyland 1003) July 1967

The follow up Morning Dew single proved to be a disappointing seller in 1967 but that has no bearing on my appreciation for a two sided winner in every way.

The group chose ’Be A Friend’ as the top side and the song more than enhances The Morning Dew’s solid reputation as a recording unit. Maybe at over 3 and a half minutes it’s a little too long and could have been edited to a shorter and punchier folk rocker. Once again the subtle use of fuzz guitar is a massive enhancement.

The flip ’Go Away’ could have easily been the A-side. This one follows the same style as ’No More’….

(14/04/11)

THE MORNING DEW – ’No More’/’Look At Me Now’ (Fairyland 1001) April 1967

The Morning Dew were a group of youngsters from Topeka, Kansas who released two sought after singles in 1967. Over the years they have had various collections re-issued by labels such as Collectables, Cicadelic and Break-A-Way Records, all with previously unissued material and different takes of their 45s.

There’s even an official Morning Dew website and I’ve uploaded the group shots that can be seen here from that site.

’No More’ is a cool piece of teen beat made even more special by the mid song fuzz break by singer/songwriter Mal Robinson. I understand that Mal used a Mosrite fuzz box for the killer rave up.
Only 2000 copies of the record were made and released on the small local label Fairyland Records. The record quickly sold out due to The Morning Dew’s huge reputation as a live act and became a regional hit.  

Line-up:
Mal Robinson (guitar/vocals)
Don Sligar (drums)
Don Shufford (bass)
Don Anderson (rhythm guitar)

(13/04/11)

NEAL FORD AND THE FANATICS – ’Bitter Bells’/’Don’t Tie Me Down’ (Tantara T-1101) 1966

This combo released many singles on various labels during 1965-69 and proved to be a popular draw in their home City of Houston, Texas. They failed to sell many records in other locations and to this day are still very much unknown. They’ve had plenty of compilation appearances but never a full retrospective which they’re long overdue.

’Bitter Bells’ is a minor key jangle ballad that will soothe your mind. A stereo version exists from the groups studio album.

Some years ago Mark Taylor from Oz compiled many of his acetates onto a 2 CD set titled ’G45 Unwaxed’…This collection contained many unknown killers and also an early take of ’Bitter Bells’ with a different arrangement and original backing vocals.

(01/04/11)

BOB MORRISON – ’Hey! Puppet Man’/’I Looked In The Mirror’ (Columbia 4-43451) Dec 1965

This is such a fantastic double sided record by Bob Morrison.
Columbia Records signed him for a run of singles and with his clean cut image I think the label were aiming him at the teener market. Perhaps both sides of this disc written and arranged by Bob Morrison took them by surprise.

’Hey! Puppet Man’ is garage pop heaven with killer fuzz throughout, there’s no let up and this side really rips. But, I’m in a folk-rock mood at the moment so I’m featuring the flip ’I Looked In The Mirror’.

This side is a slow paced moody folk rock tune and is a pure mystical loner trip. Bob sounds really pissed off with his lot on this one. Either way, the listener gets two sides of perfection.

A couple more singles on Columbia followed but not with the vibe of this debut. He then signed to Monument in late 1968 and began writing songs for other artists, mainly AOR.

A solo album did follow in 1971 but I’ve not heard it.

Columbia discography:

’Hey! Puppet Man’/’I Looked In The Mirror’ (Columbia 4-43451)
’I Fall To You’/’Then Suddenly’ (Columbia 4-43565)
’I’m In The Place’/’Wait’ (Columbia 4-43726)
’The Work Song’/’Go Away’ (Columbia 4-44009)

(31/03/11)

CHER – ’Where Do You Go’/’See See Rider’ (Liberty 66136) October 1965

In 1965 there was only one ’Queen of the Sunset Strip’ and that was Cher. She famously beat The Byrds in the sales market with ’All I Really Want To Do’ a few months earlier but her follow up ’Where Do You Go’ slumped and didn’t reach the Top 40 in England and was therefore considered a flop.

The flip side is the far superior ’See See Rider’. I’ve heard this song many times by numerous groups, none finer than The Animals take, but I’ve got huge respect for this folk rock/girl group hybrid version that really proves Cher was hip and so was Sonny Bono for that matter.

He gets the arranger and producer credit and he creates a real turned on Phil Spectoresque wall of sound.

’See See Rider’ was recorded at Gold Star Studios, Hollywood with the best sessionmen from Los Angeles. Certainly no expense spared on this one.

(29/03/11)

THE HUMAN BEINGZ – ’Hey Joe’/’Spider Man’ (Elysian Records 820F-3376) 1966

The Human Beingz hailed from Youngstown, Ohio and hit the big time with a version of ’Nobody But Me’. Now that song quite rightly gets it’s acclaim and came to my attention via Lenny Kaye’s Nuggets LP in the early 80s.

But what did the group have to offer before their hit record? Well, they released a couple of well received 45s on local labels and in 1966 came up with ’Spider Man’, a terrific folk jangler written by T.J. Voithofer of The Counts. Absolute genius.

The other side has The Human Beingz performing the folk rock standard ’Hey Joe’.

Line-up:
Mel Pachuta (bass)
Dick Belley (lead guitar-lead vocals)
Mike Tatman (drums)
Ting Markulin (rhythm guitar)

(28/03/11)

THE REMAINS – ’Say You’re Sorry’ (Epic EP 9068) Spanish EP 1967

Unless certain records fall out of the clouds and into my hands I’ll never own them. Take this four track EP by the legendary Remains that got a release in Spain. Over the years this record has become the holy grail for Remains collectors probably for the great looking picture sleeve that houses the black gold.

This was up for sale on eBay this week for a wallet bursting $1300. It didn’t sell, but one look at previous auctions sales of this EP suggests that the price wanted by the dealer wasn’t that far off the mark. The record usually goes for approx $1200 on the rare occasions that it’s offered for sale.

The music of course needs no introduction but my highlighted song ’Say You’re Sorry’ is one of The Remains more obscure recordings created in the studio on August 9th, 1966 in New York City.

(19/03/11)

CHIPS & CO – ’Marbletown’/’Let The Wind Blow’ (M5 192) 1965

Not a great deal is known about Chips & Co so I’m hoping this post will prompt some information. The group were thought to come from upstate New York (FA&F) but it has also been suggested that they were from Connecticut. I found a small advert in a 1966 print of Billboard announcing the release of their second 45 on ABC ’You’re You’ confirming the group originated from Jersey.

’Marbletown’ is a driving rocker with a strong beat but I prefer the flip ’Let The Wind Blow’…listen out for a throbbing rhythm with trashy surf guitar and an up-tempo Bo Diddley beat. Cool indeed.

(18/03/11)

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